Today, May 23, 2013, marks the fourth anniversary of Crimzure Games, a small partnership I formed with my high school friend Eryc Lin. We both shared the passion for making games, which started way back in our senior years in high school. Our first game, Illusion Trails Eternal, was released back in September 6, 2009.
Today, in celebration of the fourth anniversary of Crimzure Games, we are launching our second game: Shape Mania! It is an online Flash game that will test your ability to quickly understand and follow instructions. I won’t spend too much time talking about the rules of the game – you just have to play and figure it out yourself. The game’s concept was conceived way back in 2009 by both Eryc and me, but it wasn’t really developed and realized until now.
Shape Mania is being released exclusively on Kongregate, where you can play it now free of charge. We highly encourage you to play our game. Furthermore, please do rate the game to increase our chances of getting featured. Rating requires a Kongregate account, but you can sign up with Facebook so it really isn’t much of a hassle.
Thanks, and happy shape blasting!
Why create a game about shapes?
As much as we like game development, one of the biggest hurdles that we have constantly faced in developing games is a lack of dedicated graphic artists who can provide us with art assets. Due to this, we are often forced to limit ourselves to basic art assets (like shapes) that we can find or produce. If you also love to make games and you are good with graphics, and you would like to work with us in future projects, please do send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After 9 years of hiatus, it was finally confirmed that a new sequel to the Child’s Play series is coming this October 2013! The sixth installment in the Child’s Play series of horror films, Curse of Chucky, has just finished filming and was written and directed by Don Mancini. Mancini is the creator of the Child’s Play series and to date, he has written all six installments in the franchise. It will be the second time for him to direct, following 2004′s Seed of Chucky.
Curse of Chucky ignores the events of the Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky, and will follow directly after the events of Child’s Play 3. This means that we won’t be seeing Tiffany and Glen and this also means that the movie will be a straight horror film unlike the last two movies which were self-aware comedy-horror films. This is actually good news for me. As a big fan of the Child’s Play franchise, I would like to see another genuinely scary movie about Chucky just like the good old days.
Brad Dourif, as expected, returns as the voice of the iconic malevolent Chucky doll. It is unknown, however, at the moment, if other characters from the previous Child’s Play films such as Andy Barclay would make an appearance in this sequel.
The film will not have a theatrical release. It will be released directly to DVD this Halloween 2013.
Again it’s time for my annual recollection of the most unforgettable memories of the past year. 2012 has been a wild ride. It brought about many ups, downs, fun and difficult times. It also brought about some of the biggest changes in my life, particularly because it serves as the year when I transition from a college student to a graduate student. Many people have touched my life during this year, and I am forever grateful to them for contributing the things that they brought to my life.
For last year’s recollection, click here.
10. League of Legends Rampage 2012
I am proud to be part of one of the most successful events in the Philippine gaming community, the League of Legends Rampage 2012 held at SM Megamall. It was astounding to see how League of Legends became such a phenomenon in the Philippines in such a short time, setting a record for the SMX Convention center. The line to enter the event starts from the fifth floor, goes all the way to the ground floor, and then back up to the fifth floor! There were some freebies, and the cosplay show was simply impressive.
9. First Coursera Certificate
I earned my first certificate on Coursera, an online web site that offers free college level courses. The class I took was about gamification. By watching all the video lectures and participating in all the required activities, I was able to earn my certificate of completion with a final grade of 91.8%. This serves not only as a personal achievement, but also as a preparation for my masters thesis which has something with the aforementioned topic. This upcoming 2013, I am planning to take another course in Coursera.
8. Graduation Party at Trish’s
We had an after-graduation party at Trish’s place. Trish is a friend of mine who also graduated last October. It was a way for us batch mates to have a little reunion with one another. There were lots of delicious food, and a karaoke session followed shortly after. Most of our friends were present, and everyone really had a great time. This was also the exact date when the Taipei Assassins won the League of Legends Season 2 World Championship, but that has no relation whatsoever.
7. Sanitation Hackathon Manila 2012
This is a 24 hour hackathon that I participated in wherein we have to develop a software application with the theme of improving sanitation in the Philippines. I once again work with Team Excelsior (whom I worked with in Squishy Tales). The application that we developed was called Sanitation Access, which was a decision support tool for government agencies who want to start sanitation projects. It suggests the most optimal location on the map where these projects could benefit the most number of people. Our application won first place, and was considered the champion for the Manila wing of the Sanitation Hackathon. Unfortunately, we did not win the nationwide competition, but nevertheless it was one of the sweet victories of 2012.
6. LaSallian Recollection Retreat
Before we graduate from De La Salle University, we had an overnight retreat at Capuchin Retreat Center in Batangas. It wasn’t really that special of a retreat, but in the end somehow I got some realizations and reflections about all the things that I’ve went through in my college life. In the end, I think that it was a great way to conclude our college lives, as well as to start a new chapter of our lives. The place – Capuchin Retreat Center, was very peaceful and relaxing, and the food was just great.
5. Squishy Tales Development
January to May 2012
Following last year’s Conjunct, a web game we developed that won second place in the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011 world finals, we entered the same competition this year with Squishy Tales, a mobile game that aims to promote environmental awareness in marine life. While we were fortunate to reach the third round (the last round before the world finals), we were not given the chance to advance in the final round which was held in Sydney, Australia. Nevertheless, the memories that we had in developing the game was very memorable to me. Much of it was done during the summer break, where we had to get summer passes to be able to work inside the campus premises. There was much effort poured by the team from the concepts, graphics, programming, sounds, and video to make sure that the game turned out to be of high quality. We also presented the game at a convention held at SM Megamall (and watched The Hunger Games for free after). While Squishy Tales did not become as successful as we expected it to be, it was not all for naught as we are still currently pushing through with the project. Expect to see something from Squishy soon!
De La Salle University celebrated the end of its centennial year last June 2012. This also marks the blessing of the newly completed Henry Sy Sr. Centennial Hall, where most of the festivities were held. This awesome celebration started with various activities such as a community lunch and various concerts and performances. The night ended with a grand fireworks display. On the next day, we were invited to participate in a trip to Canlubang, Laguna for the opening of the De La Salle University Science and Technology Complex, where all the science, engineering, and business courses of the university will be transferred to in the future.
After around 3 years of wild adventures and experiences in De La Salle University, I finally graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. I am very grateful for all the things that the institution has provided me (not only the knowledge, but also the other life skills that I have acquired), and I truly felt that as I graduated I was ready to face the bigger challenges in life. Graduation has brought me not only happiness but also sadness, as it meant that I and my friends would have to part ways and start going through our own paths in our lives. Nevertheless, it definitely remains as one of the most significant milestones in my life – a once in a lifetime event that marks an end of an era and the beginning of a new, bigger one.
2. COMPSAT Inter-University Programming Competition 2012
This is an annual programming competition hosted by Ateneo De Manila University that we have been taking part in since 2010. The contest is patterned on the popular ACM Inter-Collegiate Programming Competition, where teams of three have to solve a set of problems as fast as possible in a given time limit. After falling short of the top three two times, placing fourth in both 2010 and 2011, my team has finally achieved one of the sweetest victories in my college life as we ended up as the champions of the competition this year. Together with my teammates Marc Cengca and Michael Arlanza, we have successfully placed De La Salle University back at the top after an eight year defeat streak. This competition also marks our last programming competition as undergraduate students and truly, we have ended it with a blast.
1. Trip to Vigan
The most unforgettable memory of 2012 is the 3-day trip to Vigan for our history class. Together with most of my college friends, we went to experience the different historical and cultural sites that the province has to offer. Among these are the Malacanang of the North (former residence of former President Ferdinand Marcos), the Baluarte Zoo, and the Crisologo Museum. We also met some interesting people such as the potters and weavers of the region. As for the food, and ate some Vigan empanada, longganisa, and bagnet, which were all new to me but I enjoyed them very much. We experienced riding through the streets of Vigan, the historical city, on a calesa. But aside from all the things and learning experiences, what made this trip really special was that it was a good bonding time for me and my college friends. This trip serves as the final educational field trip of my college life.
Again, just like my post on the Angry Video Game Nerd, this one is not really a web site, but rather a web video series. While the term game theory, technically, refers to the study and science of making decisions, this web series is not really related much to that.
Game Theory is a documentary show packed with quite a lot of humor. The series focuses on analyzing video games, to the extent of over-analyzing them. The show tries to examine some popular games, and then tries to correlate them with things in real life, and then it tries to formulate some theories about the game, supporting it with lots of facts. The theory that the game Adventure Island is set in the Philippines, and the fact that Chrono Trigger’s depiction of time travel is quite accurate according to Einstein’s theory of relativity are only some of the interesting bits of information that you can get from this show.
Quoting directly from the show’s pilot episode, Game Theory is gaming’s tangential learning experience that aims to help the audience to find more reasons to appreciate games while some interest in new real-world topics. While the visuals still need a bit of improvement, I think that the show is well-researched and well-written. There are many facts to discover and theories to ponder about. Not all of them are equally convincing, but it’s worth pondering about them.
Watch all of the currently released episodes here.
I have recently beaten an independent horror game called Lone Survivor. The game is about a man who finds himself exploring an old city after some form of apocalyptic event that has transformed majority of the people into unknown deformed creatures. I was drawn to the game because it brings back the horror genre to its survival roots. Most of the horror games today are either first person shooters (Doom) or third person shooters (Dead Space), both of which are more action-oriented. I miss the early days of the Resident Evil and Silent Hill franchises, where the focus was exploration, suspense, and the wise use of limited resources. Lone Survivor brings back those old times.
The game is obviously inspired heavily by Silent Hill. The sound of the radio static whenever there are nearby enemies should be a dead giveaway. Some things in the game are also inspired by some elements in the Silent Hill franchise, including mirrors as a means of travel and the apartment and city setting. Sometimes, I feel that the game borrows way too much from Silent Hill, which is not necessarily a bad thing, by the way.
What first strikes the player is the game’s unique art style, which is done in some sort of pixel art. The game plays in 2D, but it represents a three-dimensional world. I like how the game confuses you by providing a different 2D perspective as you enter each room, forcing you check the map every so often to re-orient your mind to the layout of the area. While some hardcore gamers may be turned off by the simplistic art style, I think that it actually works in complementing the game’s psychological theme. There is much detail in different backgrounds of the areas in the game, and the lighting sets a dark, disturbing tone perfect for a horror game.
You have to manage a lot of resources in this game. For starters, there’s food. You will die if you don’t eat for too long. Some things are good to eat and others are not. Some need to be cooked first, a task impossible to accomplish without acquiring some necessary items first. You also have to manage your stamina. You have to sleep when you get tired. Of course there’s the usual conservation of ammunition, which is by the way quite limited in this game. Finally, your flashlight actually runs out of battery as well, so you have to turn it off whenever it is not necessary. Sometimes I find all these things too overwhelming, but in the end it gives me a sense of excitement, as if I was really struggling for my survival in the unknown, alien world.
The story is very vague for me, but deep. Clearly, the writer (which is by the way the programmer, artist, and composer as well since this is a one man team) has placed a lot of symbolism and thought in writing the story. There are weird characters such as the Man in Blue and the Man Who Wears a Box who seem to be metaphors for something in the central story. While the interpretations of their purposes might vary slightly from one person to another, I think that their vague nature contributes to the whole psychological theme of the game.
The game isn’t very difficult, but satisfying. The fun comes from the excitement of exploring the world, while trying to survive at the same time. You’ll never know what’s around the dark corner, and there are many surprises that kept me hooked. Adding to the replay value of the game are the multiple possible endings depending on how you play. I got what the creator calls a “blue ending,” because I usually kill enemies as I encounter them, but there are other possible conclusions to the story.
For an independent game, Lone Survivor just blew my mind. It is definitely one of the best horror games I have ever played, and I highly recommend it to everyone.
This is a cool web application that allows you to play chess with other people around the world in real time. What I find unique about this web site when compared to other chess web sites is that the games are played in a single seating. In most other web sites, you can play with other people but there is no time limit (or the time limit is very long) you have to make one move, then wait for days for your opponent to make his. I don’t prefer to play chess this way. In ChessCube, you have a choice of playing 1 minute, 5 minute, or 15 minute games, which is a decent time span for a single chess game.
You can create your own account and profile, or you can choose to use your Facebook account. You have your own personal ELO (rating), which represents the skill you have in the game, so you can choose to battle with opponents on different brackets. There are players from all over the world, and usually you don’t have to wait too long to find a match. You can bet cubits (a form of currency in the game) as you play, adding a layer of meta-game into the whole experience. The cubits can be used to purchase various items in the in-game shop, such as new backgrounds or chess sets.
The interface is exceptionally done. The game plays smooth. It even allows you to reconnect if you suddenly get disconnected from a game. I like how the game records the moves made during the game on a small side panel, and it even identifies the name of the strategy or technique that was being performed (Scandinavian centre-counter defense, Queen’s pawn opening, etc.) The overall look and feel of the game can be customized upon purchase of different items that are available in the shop.
You need to have a Flash player in order to play, but I am hoping they would be able to come up with an HTML5-based version in the future. ChessCube is probably the best chess site I have encountered so far, and I highly recommend it to all chess fans.
Visit the site here!
Invitation Only (2009)
Advertised as Taiwan’s first ever slasher film, Invitation Only is a gory, violent horror flick with a few redeeming characteristics that sets it apart from other modern horror features. The film revolves around a secret grand party attended by rich and famous people. When Wade, a driver, gets the opportunity to attend the grand party under the persona of his employer’s cousin, he is introduced to an entirely new world, which later turns out to be so much darker and grim than what it looks.
Despite being promoted as a slasher, the film leans more toward the torture porn sub-genre of horror films, being very similar to movies like Hostel (2005) and Saw (2004). The film has to be one of the most violent Taiwanese films (though I haven’t seen too many Taiwanese films). It does this well – the special effects are done very realistically. Every act of violence feels very real, and this makes this film definitely not for the weak. The film is very dark and unsettling, and it seems to emphasize the limits of man’s cruelty and savageness.
One of the things that made me happy about watching this film is that the two main characters seem to be more cunning and intelligent than in other horror movies. A large part of the movie is dedicated to the struggle of these two characters to find ways to escape the party, and they do this like real people stuck in a desperate situation. Julianne Chu is very lovely as the movie’s heroine, and she does a pretty good job in portraying the smart young girl Hitomi.
The music is great, complementing the film’s suspenseful nature. However, what I really like about this movie is the sound effects. You could often hear the rapid breathing of the characters during moments of suspense, such as when they are hiding or panicking. I think that this brings the audience closer to the characters, and makes them feel more like they are experiencing the actual terror themselves. The lighting is also well done, and the setting is perfect for the theme of the movie.
While the film can be seen as an Asian take on Hostel, I think it can also viewed as a subtle and dark social commentary about the discrimination between the rich and the poor. There seems to be some hidden meaning behind it, and the film successfully conveys this through a dark and shocking metaphor. Due to its violence, this is not for the faint hearts, but it is a pretty decent horror movie nonetheless.
three out of five